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Island of Song

by Richard L. Provencher  
10/23/2012 / Short Stories

Across the stillness of water lays a stretching form, almost a creature poised to pounce. From the mainland it draws the attention of any visitor with its mysterious atmosphere.

A small island peeks from the surface of Economy Lake, almost an explosion of rock lined with trees. Tall silhouettes create a border for a private space, a hidden sanctuary.

The island has character, a full slate of tales whispered on the wind through many summers. As twilight leans forward, daylight is lost in memory. A hush descends on the island's domain. Listen to its ancient song.

Evening's wind descends with an eerie whistle. Its restless spirit comes quickly from a sweep of clouds, increasing in velocity as it twists between the trees. The trees are heavy, their branches a refuge for fur and feather. Windy puffs grow bolder. Fallen pine needles dance restlessly from one spot to another. In their new locations they prepare to take root, to tap and rise as new sprouts of life.

Other sounds begin their march under darkening sky beneath a movement of wings. Branches groan quietly. A hooting owl settles in the security of a red pine.

Night is a cloak, a blanket, the sun's bright afterglow signalling day's farewell. Pink and yellow, even mottled blue mingle in the framework between island and sky, a hint of red is the lingering goodnight kiss. The shadows knit between tall trees along the shore, the island a darker shadow on the lake. From the mainland it is unseen now, disappeared. Only a closer look reveals that night on this acre of serenity is an awakening.

Nearby, waves stir, moving in quiet 'shushes' at the shore. Cowlicks of white crest each surge of water. Their repetition of movement is patient as the stars watching from above. Now listen.

A sudden halting of sound and motion. A familiar call interrupts the chill in the night air like a flute. "AAH-OOH-AAH-OOH-AAH." It is the cry of release from a loon. For many seasons he has claimed this island. Now the lingering serenade of his mate repeats in ascending waves. These sounds herald the beginning of evening activities.

Those within the boundaries of the island respond swiftly. Trees tremble. Limbs crackle. A successful hunt concludes in the loud clapping of wings. An agony of alarm rises above the stillness and fades into silence. An owl has satisfied his hunger. These are ancient rituals.

Bobbing lights blink in quick succession along the shore. Fireflies respond, moving from one low bush to another. Beacons. Answering signals. Their spiral of motion is repeated from numerous locations. They flicker in patterns.

Clouds gather, as if to overwhelm the tiny island. But the moon's flashlight beam carves a direct path from the sky to the island. All pause below. Once again, feral eyes look upwards. The beam of light reaches one small bay.

The bonding of earth and sky joined lake, rock, and trees to water. It created a chain of fellowship. Earth and sky became brothers as the island rose from the surface of the lake. Watch closely. Wind increases in velocity, waves increase in strength and height, protesting limbs of trees scrape against each other in an act of kinship and discovery.

Time is measured in the softness of the moss, a velvety covering of roots. Ferns sweep forward in one last leafy plunge. Quietly, from the east, the blanket of night is raised. Rhythms of movement among fur and feather are stilled. The morning sun arrives as a signal for sleep. The island and its creatures listen and obey. It is an ancient command.

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Richard L. Provencher

Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

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